Quiz: Do you know your state's official song?
Quiz: Do you know your state's official song?
One of the ways the 50 united but individual states of the USA put their pride on display is through official state songs. Some states recognize a single song, others have two or more. In some places, there’s an official song and an alternate. A few states have not just an official song, but also an official march, anthem, ode, patriotic hymn, cantata, and in some cases, even official glee club songs and polkas.
Some songs honor the state’s landscape and natural beauty, while others pay tribute to the Native Americans who inhabited the state before, or honor the generous nature or independent spirit of their citizens. In a few cases, songs had to be rewritten to edit out objectionable lyrics before they could become official. Some states use their official songs as an opportunity to take shots at old foes dating back to the Civil War, with others written as clap-backs to other state songs that offended a songwriter from a rival state.
There are all kinds of reasons why the powers that be feel compelled to write certain songs into law. Sometimes, intense pressure from civic groups or even individuals drives movements to give their chosen song the honor. Other times, a native son or daughter writes a song that becomes so famous that the state would be remiss to select any other number. In several cases, people wrote odes to their states that languished in obscurity and only became popular after the song’s creator had died.
Do you think you know your state trivia? To test your knowledge of the minutiae of American culture, Stacker compiled a list of the official songs for each state from state government sites and legislative documents. We’ve listed them in a question-and-answer format, with a clue given in the first slide and the answer revealed in the second. If a state has multiple songs, the specific subgenre is included where relevant. Click through to get started—and good luck.
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Humanitarian and educator Julia S. Tutwiler wrote this song, which she penned while studying in Germany. A woman named Edna Gockel Gussen of Birmingham wrote the music, and both Tutwiler’s words and Gussen’s music were officially adopted as the state song of Alabama in 1931.
- Answer: "Alabama"
Longtime Alaska Department of Education employee Marie Drake wrote Alaska’s state song, which the Territorial Legislature officially adopted in 1955. The music was created by Elinor Dusenbury, the wife of a commander of the famed Chilkoot Barracks.
- Answer: "Alaska's Flag"
In 1919, the Fourth State Legislature officially adopted a song written by Margaret Rowe Clifford with music composed by Maurice Blumenthal. More than six decades later, however, a famous singer of cowboy songs named Rex Allen Jr. got his own song chosen by the Arizona State Legislature as an alternate state anthem.
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--- State anthem: "Arizona March Song"
--- Alternate anthem: "Arizona"
Arkansas recognizes four songs, all officially adopted by the 1987 General Assembly. The state songs were written by Terry Rose and Gary Klaff and Wayland Holyfield, respectively. The anthem is by Eva Ware Barnett, and the state’s official historic song features lyrics written by the Arkansas State Song Selection Committee in 1947 and music composed by Col. Sanford Faulkner around 1850.
--- Songs: “Oh, Arkansas," "Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)"
--- Anthem: "Arkansas"
--- Historical song: "The Arkansas Traveler"
It wasn’t a Californian, but a Canadian who wrote the Golden State’s official song. Immigrant Francis Silverwood penned the lyrics and composed the song with Orpheum Theater Orchestra director Abraham Frankenstein in 1913. Silverwood also opened Silverwood’s Clothing Store, which was long an iconic downtown Los Angeles shopping destination.
- Answer: "I Love You, California"
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A.J. Fynn wrote both the words and music to Colorado’s state song in 1896. He was inspired to pen the tune while passing through fields of famous Colorado flowers, traveling by horse and wagon to visit remote Native American tribes. The state officially enshrined it in 1915, but in 1973, Colorado adopted another song, this one written by an out-of-stater whose last name happens to be the same as Colorado’s capital city: John Denver.
- Answer: "Where the Columbines Grow," "Rocky Mountain High"
Connecticut was one of the original 13 colonies and is among the states most closely associated with the American Revolution. It stands to reason, then, that its state song is one of the most famous early patriotic songs in history. In 2003, the state officially adopted another tune, this time a cantata by Dr. Stanley L. Ralph.
--- State song: "Yankee Doodle"
--- Cantata: "The Nutmeg, Homeland of Liberty"
- Answer: "Our Delaware"
Officially designated in 1935, Florida’s official state song replaced “Florida, Florida,” which had been the state song since 1915. Its parenthetical title is a bastardization of the name “Suwannee River,” which runs through the state. In 2008, under pressure to change the song yet again, officials compromised by adding a state anthem based on a plentiful grass that grows in the Everglades and other marshlands.
--- State song: "Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)"
--- Anthem: "Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)"
Georgia native Ray Charles is arguably one of the greatest rhythm and blues musicians of all time. In 1979, the state’s governor signed a bill making one of his most celebrated numbers the official state song of Georgia. Although Charles made the song famous, it actually has a history dating back to 1930, the same year Ray Charles was born.
- Answer: "Georgia on My Mind"
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King David Kalākaua wrote the state song of Hawaii in 1874 and it was adopted by the state in 1967. The title translates into “Hawaii’s Own True Sons.”
- Answer: "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī"
The music to the state song of Idaho, which stands out as the only state in America with an official seal designed by a woman, was written by Sallie Hume-Douglas. Craig Chernos arranged the piece.
- Answer: "Here We Have Idaho"
Illinois is the land of Lincoln, and the Civil War is featured prominently in the state’s official song. It was written by C.H. Chamberlain and the music was composed by Archibald Johnston.
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- Answer: "Illinois"
Indiana adopted what might be one of the saddest state songs in America. Paul Dresser, a native of Terre Haute, wrote the song and dedicated it to a 14-year-old girl he’d never met named Mary E. South. First published in 1897, the state officially adopted the song in 1913.
- Answer: "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away"
S.H.M. Byers was inspired to write what would become the official Iowa state song after he was captured at the Battle of Lookout Mountain. During seven months in a Confederate prison, his captors tormented him by repeatedly playing “My Maryland,” a decidedly Southern song. In an early battle rap of sorts, Byers vowed to write an antithetical Northern song set to the same tune.
- Answer: "The Song of Iowa"
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The Kansas state song is one of the most famous cowboy songs ever written. It’s sometimes called “the cowboy national anthem” or “the million-dollar song.” The state also has two march songs, one written by noted marching band director Duff E. Middleton and another that was adopted much later.
--- State song: "Home on the Range"
--- Marches: "The Kansas March," "Here's Kansas"
The official Kentucky state song was originally written in 1852 as an anti-slavery ballad. Over time, objectionable racial language was removed and the original narrative became muddled. Being that it’s Kentucky, the state also has an official bluegrass song, which was written by Bill Monroe and officially adopted in 1988.
--- State song: "My Old Kentucky Home"
--- Bluegrass song: "Blue Moon of Kentucky"
The first of Louisiana’s two state songs was written and arranged by Doralice Fontane and Dr. John Croom, respectively, and adopted in 1970. The other was made official seven years later and was written by Charles Mitchell and Jimmie H. Davis, the latter of whom was a former governor. The state’s official environmental song, a Frances LeBeau tune, was adopted in 1990.
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--- Songs: "Give Me Louisiana," "You Are My Sunshine"
--- March: "Louisiana My Home Sweet Home"
--- Environmental song: "The Gifts of Earth"
The Maine state song was written by Roger Vinton Snow, a fitting last name for a man famous for writing a song about a state known for its winters. The official state ballad is a new arrival, codified only in July 2019, and serves as a tribute to the 20th Maine Regiment’s exploits at Gettysburg. Augusta resident Leo Pepin wrote the state march, which was officially enshrined in 2012.
--- State song: "State of Maine Song"
--- Ballad: "Ballad of the 20th Maine"
--- March: "The Dirigo March"
Maryland’s state song, the same one Confederate prison guards used to antagonize S.H.M. Byers during his captivity in the Civil War, comes from a nine-stanza poem. James Ryder Randall penned the words in April 1861, when he heard that Union troops were marching through Baltimore.
- Answer: "Maryland, My Maryland"
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Massachusetts officially recognizes more than half a dozen pieces of music, and in 2018, a state lawmaker introduced a bill to add the song “Roadrunner” by Modern Lovers as the state’s official rock song. The current anthem, however, was dedicated in 1981 and was written by Arthur J. Marsh.
--- State anthem: "All Hail to Massachusetts"
--- Folk song: "Massachusetts"
--- Ceremonial march: "The Road to Boston"
--- Patriotic song: "Massachusetts (Because of You Our Land is Free)"
--- Glee club song: "The Great State of Massachusetts"
--- Polka: "Say Hello to Someone from Massachusetts"
--- Ode: "Ode to Massachusetts"
Composed and written by Giles Kavanagh and H. O'Reilly Clint, the Michigan state song was officially adopted on May 21, 1937. It’s rarely sung and is not performed at formal state functions. That’s likely because the state never purchased the song and would have to pay royalties to use it.
- Answer: "My Michigan"
Minnesota’s state song was written over the course of two years. University of Minnesota students Arthur E. Upson and Truman E. Rickard wrote the first part in 1904. A year later in 1905, a second verse was added.
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- Answer: "Hail! Minnesota"
The state of Mississippi adopted its official state song in 1962. William Houston Davis wrote the tune.
- Answer: "Go, Mississippi"
Although its exact origins are foggy, what would become the Missouri state song was probably first printed in 1912 by an Iowan named Frederick Knight Logan. When Missouri native President Harry Truman played the song on the piano, its popularity soared. It was later amended to remove racist language and was finally adopted as the state song in 1949.
- Answer: "Missouri Waltz"
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Montana’s state song was written by Charles C. Cohan and the music comes from Joseph E. Howard. It’s known as one of the hardest to sing out of all of America’s official state songs. Students from Jefferson School in Helena played a critical role in getting Montana’s official state ballad written into law and the state also has an official lullaby, which was written by Ken Overcast and Wylie Gustafson.
--- Song: "Montana"
--- Ballad: "Montana Melody"
--- Lullaby: "Montana Lullaby"
Both Guy G. Miller and Jim Fras, who created the Nebraska state song in the 1960s, were residents of Lincoln. The musician Fras, however, was a Russian immigrant who was inspired to write the song while driving through the Nebraska countryside.
- Answer: "Beautiful Nebraska"
- Answer: "Home Means Nevada"
Clue: New Hampshire
New Hampshire recognizes no fewer than nine official state songs, although eight of them are alternates. The one at the top of the heap was written in 1926 but wasn’t officially adopted until 1949.
Answer: New Hampshire
--- State song: "Old New Hampshire"
--- Honorary songs: "New Hampshire, My New Hampshire," "New Hampshire Hills," "Autumn in New Hampshire," "New Hampshire's Granite State," "Oh, New Hampshire," "The Old Man of the Mountain," "The New Hampshire State March," "New Hampshire Naturally"
New Jersey’s state song must be a Bruce Springsteen number—or maybe a classic by Bon Jovi, right? Neither, actually. Despite a glut of natives who went on to become legendary musical acts, the Garden State holds the distinction of being the only one in America without an official song. The unofficial song is “I’m From New Jersey” by Red Mascara, who lobbied long and hard to get his song nominated before dying at the age of 92 in 2015.
Clue: New Mexico
New Mexico’s official state song was written by Elizabeth Garrett, the daughter of legendary Old West lawman Pat Garrett. The official Spanish-language song was written by Amadeo Lucero, and the state also recognizes a bilingual song, a ballad, and a cowboy song.
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Answer: New Mexico
--- State song: "O Fair New Mexico"
--- Spanish song: "Así Es Nuevo Méjico"
--- Ballad: "Land of Enchantment"
--- Bilingual song: "New Mexico – Mi Lindo Nuevo México"
--- Cowboy song: "Under New Mexico Skies"
Clue: New York
Neither Frank Sinatra nor Jay-Z lay claim to the Empire State’s official song—that distinction goes to Steve Karmen. The title of his song is also the official state slogan, although, in the slogan, the state name is abbreviated with initials.
Answer: New York
- Answer: "I Love New York"
Clue: North Carolina
North Carolina’s state song was widely popular and served as the unofficial state song since the time it was written in 1835. It wasn’t written into law, however, until 1927.
Answer: North Carolina
- Answer: "The Old North State"
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Clue: North Dakota
James W. Foley wrote North Dakota’s state song and Dr. C.S. Putnam arranged it. It’s sung to the tune of “The Austrian Hymn.”
Answer: North Dakota
- Answer: "North Dakota Hymn"
The Ohio state song was written in 1918, officially adopted in 1969, and then the lyrics were altered 20 years later in 1989. Ohio also has an official rock song, which was written in tribute to Steubenville resident Dorothy Sloop and made famous by The McCoys in 1965.
--- State song: "Beautiful Ohio"
--- Rock song: "Hang On Sloopy"
Oklahoma’s original state song was “Oklahoma, a Toast,” from 1935 until 1953. That year, however, it was replaced with the current state song, which comes from a famous Broadway musical and was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The state also recognizes a gospel song, a children’s song, a folk song, and a waltz.
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--- State song: "Oklahoma!"
--- Waltz: "Oklahoma Wind"
--- Folk song: "Oklahoma Hills"
--- Children's song: "Oklahoma, My Native Land"
--- Gospel song: "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"
John A. Buchanan wrote the words to the Oregon state song and Henry B. Murtagh wrote the music. It was officially adopted into law in 1927.
- Answer: "Oregon, My Oregon"
The official song of Pennsylvania was made official only in 1990. It shares a title with an unrelated Bloodhound Gang song of the same name.
- Answer: "Pennsylvania"
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Clue: Rhode Island
It took three people to bring the Rhode Island state song to life. Maria Day wrote the music, Charlie Hall wrote the lyrics, and Kathryn Chester arranged the piece. The state officially adopted it in 1996. T. Clarke Brown wrote both the words and the music to the official state march.
Answer: Rhode Island
--- State song: "Rhode Island, It's for Me"
--- March: "Rhode Island"
Clue: South Carolina
The South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution campaigned for the state song to be based on words written by famous state poet Henry Timrod. In 1984, the state adopted a second song, this one written by South Carolina natives Buzz Arledge and Hank Martin.
Answer: South Carolina
- Answer: "Carolina," "South Carolina on My Mind"
Clue: South Dakota
Deecourt Hammitt wrote what would be anointed the official state song of South Dakota in 1943. It was originally written as a marching song.
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Answer: South Dakota
- Answer: "Hail, South Dakota"
Only two of Tennessee’s 10 officially recognized state songs don’t have the word “Tennessee” in the title. One was made famous by the Osborne Brothers and the other was written by Dennis Morgan and Kye Fleming.
--- "My Homeland, Tennessee"
--- "When It's Iris Time in Tennessee"
--- "My Tennessee"
--- "Tennessee Waltz"
--- "Rocky Top"
--- "The Pride of Tennessee"
--- "A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap: 1796-1996"
--- "Smoky Mountain Rain"
The Texas state song was officially adopted in 1929 but was altered in 1959. The revision changed the word “largest” to “boldest” when geographically bigger Alaska was admitted as a state.
- Answer: "Texas, Our Texas"
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“Utah, We Love Thee” was the state’s official song until 2003. That year, lawmakers voted to change it to the current selection. Fourth graders from Cook Elementary School sang it to the state’s senators before they voted on the change.
--- State song: "Utah…This Is The Place"
--- Hymn: "Utah, We Love Thee"
“Hail to Vermont!” had stood as the official state song since 1938. In 2000, however, it was dethroned by a song composed by Diane Martin and arranged by Rita Buglass Gluckstate. The song’s namesake geographical formation is also featured in the state seal, the state nickname, and the state flag.
- Answer: "These Green Mountains"
For nearly two decades, Virginia didn’t have any official state song at all—then all of the sudden in 2015, it had two. Mike Greenly and Jim Papoulis created the traditional state song and the popular state song is by Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett. The reason Virginia spent nearly 20 years without a state song is that in 1997, the former state song was retired for its racist lyrics—it’s now the state’s “song emeritus.”
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--- Traditional state song: "Our Great Virginia"
--- Popular song: "Sweet Virginia Breeze"
--- Emeritus song: "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny"
In 1959, the state of Washington officially adopted a song by Helen Davis and Stuart Churchill as its own. Its official folk song was written by one of the most famous folk musicians in history, Woody Guthrie.
--- State song: "Washington, My Home"
--- Folk song: "Roll On, Columbia, Roll On"
Clue: West Virginia
West Virginia recognizes several state songs. Only one, however, was written by John Denver, who holds the distinction of writing two songs on this list—he’s also the author of one of Colorado’s state songs.
Answer: West Virginia
--- "The West Virginia Hills"
--- "This Is My West Virginia"
--- "West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home"
--- "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
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Although it also recognizes a state waltz and a state ballad, Wisconsin’s official state song was written by William Purdy. Lawmakers enshrined it into law in 1959.
--- State song: "On, Wisconsin!"
--- Ballad: "Oh Wisconsin, Land of My Dreams"
--- Waltz: "The Wisconsin Waltz"
Amy and Annie Smith are twins and fifth-generation Wyoming natives. As of July 2018, they’re also the duo responsible for Wyoming’s official new state song.
--- State song: "Wyoming Where I Belong”
--- March: "Wyoming"
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